As you know by now, all 15 seats on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) are up for election this year, and the primary election is set for 29 May. We’ve previously discussed the race for District 5, where incumbent Ken “Dog-Cat” Mercer is being challenged, and District 10, where three GOP candidates are contending for an open seat (see Texas State Board of Education Races for 2012), and for District 8, where the incumbent chairman, creationist Barbara Cargill is being challenged (see Cargill v. Ellis). Now we’ll discuss the situation in District 15, which seems to be an open seat.
In the Amarillo Globe-News of Amarillo, Texas we read Evolution debate on tap. It’s one of the worst, most disorganized, and virtually chaotic news stories we’ve ever seen — they don’t even mention the primary candidates’ political parties, nor do they distinguish between the coming primary election and the much later general election — but we’ll try to make some sense of it.
To put things in perspective — which the Amarillo Globe-News doesn’t bother to do — there are two Republicans contending for their party’s nomination in the 29 May primary: Anette Carlisle and Marty Rowley. The winner of that primary will face Democrat Steven Schafersman in November. Steven Schafersman has no opposition for his party’s nomination, so the article barely mentions him, but he’s very good on the issue of science education and we’ll probably favor him when the general election is held. For this post we’ll discuss only the two GOP contenders. Here are some excerpts from the news article, with bold font added by us:
The State Board of Education is scheduled to review science materials in summer 2013, when Amarillo attorney Marty Rowley, Amarillo Independent School District board president Anette Carlisle and a handful of other contenders for seats on the panel hope to stir anew efforts to kindle classroom discussion of alternatives to evolution.
That’s interesting. The SBOE will be buying science books next year, and Texas is one of the nation’s biggest textbook buyers, so their choices can influence the publishing industry. After Texas went insane in 2009-2010, the California legislature passed a bill that would prevent their state from adopting textbooks that had been perverted by the Texas standards (see Texas Textbook Lunacy: California Backlash), but we understand the bill was vetoed by the Governor. (Is Arnold Schwarzenegger a creationist?) Anyway, this year’s Texas SBOE elections are going to be important. The story continues:
In District 15, Rowley is running against Carlisle, and science is a hot topic. Her [Anette Carlisle’s] stance is decisions about science curriculum should be based on the consensus of experts and educators in the field.
That sounds nice. However …
“I would defer to the experts and say, ‘Are we doing what’s right?’” she said. “I think that’s what they went with when they passed the science curriculum standards at the state board the last time. They relied on expert input.”
Yeah, expert input. At the SBOE’s 2009 hearings on science standards, the creationist majority stacked the deck by loading up the hearing with creationist “experts” (see Texas Creationism “Show Trial” Today). Is that what Carlisle has in mind? Here’s her campaign website: Anette Carlisle. There are many generalities, but nothing specific on science education. Wait — among her endorsements we see Thomas Ratliff, who defeated Don McLeroy last time around. We also see Bob Craig, the current SBOE member from District 15. He’s always been sane, so both of those endorsements are a good sign. Let’s read on:
[Marty] Rowley said he disagrees with those viewpoints. “Evolutionists would say that we progressed to this point through a series of unplanned, random circumstances and random events,” he said. “I don’t believe that tells the whole story. I think there is more to our creation that indicates an intelligent being that has played a significant role.”
Whoa — hard core creationism! We continue:
Scientists already look at the strengths and weaknesses in anything they study, [Anette] Carlisle said. Including religious beliefs in science curricula would be troublesome because not every student holds the same beliefs, she said.
Hey, she’s not bad at all — at least compared to Rowley. But we wish she’d be specific about issues like evolution. Here’s more:
Evolution’s flaws as well as alternative theories should be part of the discussion, Rowley said.
Well, at least we can easily classify him. Our preliminary opinion on this race is that no matter who wins in the GOP primary (and we hope it’s Carlisle), we’ll probably be supporting Steven Schafersman in the general election.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.